Being mindful, not just of the quality of the immediate happiness that results from a desire’s fulfillment, but also of what surfaces when that happiness fades can help you hold your desires lightly. Yes, a fulfilled desire can create happiness, but it is a dependent, nervous sort of joy that has the tendency to fade quickly and leave you wide open for new desires to come up to start the cycle all over again. In a way, you can compare it to an addiction. The search for your “fix” is often fraught with unhappy, tenacious striving, worry and all-consuming ambition, whereas the ultimate rewards are meagre and quick to die off. Often, you need to step out of this all-too-familiar cycle to see it for what it is: bondage.
When contemplating love, we tend to immediately think of romantic or erotic love, with its attendant pitfalls of possessiveness, dating strategies and self-doubt. Love, however, is a multi-faceted thing. The Ancient Greeks famously identified seven different types of love, ranging from love for the self to a universal love for all beings. It may help to view each of these types as facets of the same awesome phenomenon, each with its specific pitfalls.
(This is part 2 of a four-part series on experiencing happiness and freedom in your day-to-day life. Part 1 can be found here.)
Yes, mindfulness. Far from being one of the things that you need to be doing in order to be happy or free, mindfulness is actually a very potent way to gain observational data on what your mind is doing from moment to moment.
You may know Inward meditation center as a place where we practice buddhist and stoic meditations. We attempt to deepen our mindfulness and broaden our friendliness to ourselves and others in everything we do, say or intend, without succumbing to the temptation to get tied down by the results of our practice. We try our best, which really is all we can do.
This way of living helps us to develop wisdom and harmony, but also to LIVE from that place of wisdom and harmony. The practices we do – mindfulness and metta meditations, negative visualisation, gratitude and practicing mindfulness in daily life – aim to further the experience of wisdom and harmony, even (or yet precisely!) when we tend to experience disharmony and are enticed by simplistic judgements.
But that does not mean that Buddhism or Stoicism are the exclusive sources of wisdom, compassion and love. Continue reading “Wisdom, love and compassion in other spiritual traditions”
Mindfulness is often mistaken for “being in the moment”. It’s easy to understand how this confusion might arise, so let’s compare the two to see where they overlap, and where they may differ. Continue reading “Mindfulness, flow and being in the moment”
This happens to me about once a week. When talking to someone, that person will say: “Oh yeah, mindfulness… I do xxx and that is meditative to me.” This “xxx” part can be anything from running to gaming, through coding to sex. Often, the implication is that to this person, practicing mindfulness is unnecessary; after all, sometimes, when they do xxx, they’re “in the moment”.
But this is false equivalence. The assumption is that practicing mindfulness is somehow pleasant or relaxing. A contemplative version of smoking cannabis or drinking alcohol. Continue reading “The difference between mindfulness and flow”
Minimalism has become a thing. The objects you own can be a burden, as well as an asset, and getting rid of the clutter can help you soar free, unbounded by the ties that bind. Or so the idea goes. Consequently, some people now profess to owning less than 100 items, while others are able to eke out a living helping unfortunate hoarders to declutter their lives.
But is it true that we are bound by our material possessions? Perhaps this unfreedom is just another story we tell ourselves, just like the story that accumulating possessions will be sufficient to make us happy. Continue reading “Towards True Minimalism”
For most of recorded history, wars, famines and epidemics were a given. Suffering and death were an integral part of life. Infant mortality was rampant, with parents constantly hedging their bets, seeing as their children were the only pension fund they had.
Now, for most humans in the West, things are much better. We haven’t seen war, famine or epidemic in over 70 years.
Having taken care of our survival needs, our heads now turn to the pursuit of happiness, famously enshrined in the American constitution. Continue reading “Happiness: You Can’t Get There From Here”
In the South-East Asian Theravada tradition, vipassanā meditation opens the practitioner up to “reality as it truly is”. Reality thus experienced is impermanent and changing from moment to moment. Treating reality any differently – as if it were stable – generates suffering, or dukkha. Investigating this dukkha yields the insight that cherished identities are mere fabrications of the mind. Continue reading “The vipassanā of culture – seeing collective suffering for what it really is”
The mystics of the world have known it for millennia: ordinary consensus reality is not all there is.
Whether they meditated their way to a spiritual opening or selflessly devoted their lives to the service of this one thing that’s bigger than themselves. Whether they stumbled across it haphazardly or deliberately set out in search for it.
Whether they subsequently taught their techniques to others or chose to keep their experiences private, their lives were enriched to the point that ordinary, day-to-day worries were rendered irrelevant as a (renewed) connection was made to the mysteries surrounding our existence, leading to states of expansive joy, love and general well-being. Continue reading “Some Thoughts on Spiritual Experiences and Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness”
Humans want certain things. Things that hold the promise of making us happier than we are at present. The promise of a better, more fulfilling life. The things we want can be material, they can be social, and they can be developmental. The social desire to be respected, common among insecure people, is an example. Wanting to be able to do karate can be seen as an example of a developmental desire.
Nevertheless, this promise of a better, more fulfilling life seldom works out the way we think it does. Generally, getting an outcome we want leads to the arising of a new desire or need. We are rarely satisfied for long, and tend to either look down upon our past acquisitions or conquests, or take them for granted. Most people spend their lives travelling towards destinations that, on arrival, don’t seem quite as worthwhile as previously imagined. Continue reading “Exploring the human hierarchy of desireneeds”
Mindfulness. To some, it’s the greatest human invention since agriculture. Others fret that mindfulness is an ill-defined and modish term that no-one truly understands. Yet others shrug and say this too shall pass. One thing seems certain, mindfulness is here to stay.
In popular culture, mindfulness has been described as “the heart” of buddhist meditation, a “sacred pause” or just plain “awareness”. More formally, mindfulness is defined as the act of “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”.
Whereas the intentional attentiveness to present-moment phenomena seems straightforward enough, it’s the non-judgmental aspect of this practice that appears to most confound people. Yet, perhaps for this very reason, it has been my experience that this element of mindfulness practice tends to hit home the hardest. Continue reading “True mindfulness starts with love”
One of the benefits of regularly visiting a church is that you get to hear ancient wisdoms. Truths that are familiar to some degree, but that require practice to keep their beauty alive. Generosity, neighbourliness and humility are examples of “Christian” values that can get left by the wayside in the bustle of our everyday lives. That’s why it’s so important that they get mentioned every now and again. Continue reading “10 Life Skills for Applied Mindfulness”
So you’re stressed out. You’ve found out that relationships don’t come easy to you. You’re sick of your job and you want to do “something else”. Congratulations! You’ve just taken the first step towards greater self-awareness.
Naturally, your sleepless nights aren’t over yet. Your relationship is still somnambulant. Your horrible job has not magically become fun overnight. But you know that things could be different. And that is step 1. Continue reading “Mindfulness, self-awareness and self-mastery”
Have you ever noticed how isolated you can feel when you’re afraid. Or sad? Or angry? And how you can feel connected to the world when you’re joyous or loving?
Emotions colour your perception. If we would plot perception on a linear scale, from closed and isolated to open and connected, emotions such as fear, anxiety, sadness and anger would logically end up on the isolated end of the spectrum. While joy and love would edge to the connected end. Continue reading “Mindfulness for emotional processing”
Once you start observing how you react to whatever passes by in meditation you might become aware of the near constant swiping left and right that your mind is involved in.
“This is fun/feel good/nice so I want more of it”, or “unwanted, yuck, ouch, ewwww, be gone!” Your mind is continually engaged in gauging whether something is desired or not. The desired stimuli are preferred and the undesired ones get pushed away. Continue reading “Meet Your Tindering Mind”
According to Buddhists, humans have six senses instead of the usual five. Mind is regarded as the sixth, cognizing thoughts, judgements, memories, plans and emotions.
For Westerners, it is an unusual way to describe the mind. I’m not saying it’s the only right way to view it. Nevertheless, there may be something to be gained by experimenting with this perspective. Continue reading “Buddhist view of mind”
Mindfulness of death makes you happier, more grateful and gets you in touch with the magic and mystery inherent in each moment.
Humans are prone to wonder about the meaning of life. What other animal looks up at the stars to ponder his place in the Grand Scheme of Things? It’s the eternal question that keeps plaguing man, while at the same time opening his eyes to the wondrous beauty that is inherent in life. How silly man is, knowing somewhere in the dark recesses of his mind that the answer is exceedingly simple: the meaning to life is death. Continue reading “Mindfulness, death, and the meaning of life”
It’s done before you notice it. That hurtful word, that angry look or that “joke” that really wasn’t a joke at all. To say nothing of that angry tantrum, total freeze-up or emotional outburst in which you lost control. Deer in the headlights, anyone?
People sometimes ask me how they can gain more depth in their meditation practice.
The Introduction to Meditation course outlines how a balanced meditation practice exists of three components: concentration, mindfulness and metta. Training your mind – the goal of meditation – requires these three components to be equally well-developed. Continue reading “Meditation special theme sessions”
Every month, Inward Meditation Center hosts a four-week introductory course to acquaint you with meditation, and this October is no exception. On Monday October 5, at 8:00 PM, we kick off our fifth Introduction To Meditation course.
In this course, we introduce the three components of a balanced meditation practice: concentration, mindfulness and friendliness. Each week, you are given home work that consists of both “formal” and “informal” meditations. This way, you’ll get hands-on experience using a variety of methods that can help you enhance your life. At the end of the four-week course, your “meditative toolbox” will be filled with great techniques that can last you a lifetime. Continue reading “Introduction To Meditation course starts October 5”
From August 17, Inward Meditation starts offering 30 minute Lunch Break Meditation sessions. Every office day between 12:30 and 13:00, you’re more than welcome to trade in your workday activity for a few breaths of peace and quiet. A wonderful way to break the stress train! Continue reading “Lunch Break Meditations at Inward Meditation Center”
It is commonly said that practising meditation is like training a muscle. Repeated and consistent practice strengthens the meditation “muscle”. Lapses weaken it. So why don’t we use lessons from the science of exercise and muscle-building to fast-track our meditation development? Here is what happened when I tried… Continue reading “A modified technique to train mindfulness of breathing”
Many people are becoming familiar with meditation these days. It helps them with perspective-taking, becoming more compassionate and less focused on avoiding painful stimuli. It’s only natural for people who derive benefit from something, to start examining what more is out there. In the vicinity of mindfulness meditation, it turns out, actually there is quite a bit to explore. One of the first places people look when starting their exploration is the field of buddhist meditation. Continue reading “The difference between mindfulness meditation and insight or vipassana meditation”
Mindfulness and metta meditation Utrecht is a meditation group that focuses on practicing mindfulness meditation in a non-religious, non-devotional and non-dogmatic way. We respect and recognize the traditions that have brought mindfulness and metta meditation to our attention. However, we do not think that all ingredients of these Eastern tradtions are necessarily suitable for us and our time. To us, mindfulness meditation is a way to practice concentration, learn to see deeper into our experiences and develop wisdom. In metta meditation we develop loving kindness, not just for the world and people around us, but also for ourselves. Continue reading “Welcome to Mindfulness & Metta meditation Utrecht”